Dr Mia Lee – My Journey As A European Historian

What drove you to specialize in history?

I didn’t have a straightforward path in university. I tried a few different things and eventually chose History after these different things.

I graduated from high school in 1992. At that point, I didn’t know what I wanted to study. My father wanted me to study aquaculture. I first thought – what a great idea. I enrolled in an agricultural program and thought I’d become an aqua culture specialist.

That lasted a few weeks as I don’t know if I really want to spend the rest of my life raising livestock. I decided instead to go in undeclared. I ended up in a college, where the Provost was a specialist in Southeast Asia and took a couple of modules in anthropology in Southeast Asia.

Later in my first year, my father passed away, and I left university and went into a community college. I worked for my family in the restaurant business to help take care of my seven younger sisters. While I was at community college, I took a lot of history modules and did my basic general education requirements. I did modules like marine biology, logic, home economics as part of the American system.

My family really wanted me to finish my bachelor’s degree, and so I enrolled into University of California, Irvine, which is near where we lived so that I could still live at home, help out and go to school. Because I was enrolling, I had to have a major, and I decided to declare History because my favourite professor at that time was a historian.

It could have been anything. I like school in general, which I think shows because I have so many other things I needed to do, but I still took a full load of modules.

Now, if my father had still been alive, maybe that wouldn’t have been my final choice. My family was surprised by my decision to pursue History. However, it didn’t really matter as they expected me to work at my family restaurant after I completed my education. That was why I went to Germany – I didn’t want to work in a restaurant. It’s not that it was a bad job – my uncle’s restaurant business is amazing, but I just wanted to do something different.

Where do your research interests lie? Could you share with us your proudest moment in this journey?

My early research interests were on History and memory. I was also interested in art and cultural movements in the post-war period, especially in post-WWII Germany. I don’t have a proudest moment, but I have had many along the way.

Back in university, I did my version of Honours Thesis on Anne Frank. You may think that the topic has been explored completely, but there are so many other perspectives that one can explore. For instance, when we look at the history of the book, what’s interesting is that her story was not a bestseller in Europe when it was first published. In fact, it was a bestseller in America, which later revived sales in Europe.

When it was first published, it was a story of transcendent love and courage, and not about Jews surviving the Holocaust. It was later made into a play and an Oscar-winning movie. By that time, it was really about the love story between Anne and Peter.

Also, the famous last line about how Anne believes in humanity – that was not her last line but that of her father. He father was the only survivor in the family and he helped edit that diary.

It’s interesting how we see the diary as a very hopeful and optimistic document of the war when it actually had darker moments. So that was the first thing that was exciting for me to discover, and there’s so much more. There’re just so many other ways to look at one topic.

What are you currently researching on?

I am involved in a research mentorship program at local junior colleges. In the project, university students mentored JC students for a research project in a half-day workshop. In the last two years, we researched on 1819 and divided it into several sub-topics that everybody had to research for the workshop. That was a fun thing that we did. I’m currently writing up a short article on the pedagogical methodology behind the workshop.

I am also researching on European refugees to Shanghai, and there is a family story behind this. My grandfather was in Shanghai in the 1940s, and there was one Jewish refugee who worked in the same restaurant. Coincidentally, both of them later came to operate their own restaurants in California in the 1970s. It was this that got me interested in their story.

Last year, there was a student who wrote her Honours Thesis on the recent institutionalisation and commemoration of the Jewish ghetto in Shanghai, which was very interesting. The Chinese have run campaigns in Europe and the United States highlighting how the Chinese saved Jews during WWII, which isn’t completely accurate because the Chinese were also under occupation. They’ve also encouraged former refugees and other individual Jews to come to China. By emphasising this link between the Chinese and Jewish communities, it brings in investment opportunities for China.

There are centres for Jewish Studies in China, where the similarities between Chinese and Jewish values and characteristics have been discussed. It is very interesting how there’s so much sympathy between these two communities about the importance of family, hard work and thriftiness. This historical episode supports this idea that there is some kind of natural alliance between these groups.


What is your favourite book and who is your favourite author?

Right now, I love science fiction and fantasy. My favourite novel is Winfried Georg Sebald’s Austerlitz.

What’s something you’d put on your bucket list?

I’d like to go to Taiwan. My father was a big supporter of Taiwan and Chiang Kai Shek. He also admired Bismarck, and so I grew up with stories these two figures – he always wanted Chiang Kai Shek to be more like Bismarck for the reunification of China. Coincidentally, I came to study German history later on. Perhaps there was a seed planted there.

Who’s your favourite cartoon character?

Woody Woodpecker.

What’s your least favourite beverage?

I don’t really like green tea.

What genres of music do you enjoy the most?

Hip Hop.

If you could teleport anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I’m going to go to France. That’s where my husband’s family’s from.

If you could add one word into the English dictionary, what would it be?

Oh, I like this thing when you call something wayang when you know it’s just for looks. That’s one of my favourite words.

Could you describe your personal motto?

Don’t worry it’s going to be okay.

Thank you so much for the interview

*Parts of the interview have been edited for clarity

Dr Seng Guo Quan – Discovering Our Local History and “Chineseness”

What drove you to specialize in history?

During my undergraduate studies at the University of Cambridge, I came across Tim Harper while I was looking for a thesis advisor. In the early noughts of the 2000s, he published an essay in the eulogy volume to Lim Chin Siong, called Comet in the Sky, and his essay opened my eyes to what history can do. It was only after reading it that I asked myself how I knew nothing about Lim Chin Siong, considering how he’s such an important figure in my own history. It was then that I discovered the power of History.

Lee Kuan Yew’s Singapore story describes his awkward relationship with Lim Chin Siong. In the words of Tim Harper, he was “almost like a ghost”. He haunts the Singapore story because he’s so important you cannot write it out.

The way Tim Harper teased out the kind of social world that gave us and made possible the radical politics of Lim Chin Siong is an example of what history can do – It recovers lost worlds. Alternative histories often show what could have been radically different from now.

I later wrote my undergrad thesis on the left wing in Singapore in the 1960s.

Where do your research interests lie? Could your share with us a surprising moment?

I define my research interests as covering two major fields. One is Chinese migration and the overseas Chinese. The other is very broadly defined as the history of capitalism in Asia and the way it was imposed on Asia by European imperialism. I also have a minor interest which I continue to maintain in Singapore historiography.

While working on my first book, I came across something very interesting that changed my research direction in ways that I did not expect. I found female voices that I hadn’t expect to see in the archives. I had started off thinking that I would write a PhD dissertation on the formation of Chinese identity in Dutch Indonesia. At that point, I was interested in how identity was created through dialogue with the state and the law – One’s “Chinese-ness” is related to how the state tries to define us.

However, when I looked at the archives, I was very surprised to find that many of the legal documents of the Dutch East Indies of the 19th century were left behind by women. Because of that, I had to include a gender element in my research.

For instance, in probate papers, the assumption tends to be that Chinese women didn’t really have much property rights, and that property would be inherited by the husband or son. However, I was very surprised to see so many women arranging how their property would be divided, according to their own will.

Women wrote their own wills and own quite a fair bit of property, and this was a phenomenon that I hadn’t encountered before reading Chinese social history and even diaspora studies. There’s relatively little written about this, and this is something unique to Peranakan women. That became the strongest chapter in my dissertation, and I later rewrote and published it as a journal article.

Do you have any general advice for the current freshmen, especially for those who might still be unsure of whether to pursue History?

You are lucky to have a choice. I went through a British system, in which you did the one major you were admitted for. I will say, it’s good spend your first year experimenting with two or three disciplines before you decide.

At History, I see us as the bridge connecting the social sciences and the Area Studies discipline. Because we’re strong in Asian history, and you need the Asian languages to read the primary sources, it immediately puts us in dialogue with our friends over in Chinese, Malay, South Asian, Japanese Studies. Yet for those of us who do social, economic, business, religious and gender history, we grapple with social science theories (and some methods) that our friends over in Sociology, Political Science, Philosophy, Economics, English, although of course often with a slightly different emphasis. If I may exaggerate things a little, besides being a bridge, that makes History the Mother of all FASS disciplines!


What is your favourite book and who is your favourite author?

My favourite book is Peter Laslett’s The World We Have Lost. My favourite author is Cao Xueqin, author of Dream of the Red Chamber. My favourite theorist would be Karl Marx.

What’s is something you will put on your bucket list?

I want to live in Java for at least a year.

Who is your favourite cartoon character?

Transformers’ Bumblebee.

What genres of music do you like the most?

I listen to Mando-pop and a little bit of classical.

What’s your least favourite food?

Kidney pies.

Lastly, could you describe your personal motto?

Live reflectively and live fully.

Thank you so much for the interview.

*Parts of the interview have been edited for clarity

A/P Ian Gordon – Why I Became a Cultural Historian

What drove you to specialize in history?

It is a long-term interest in how the past influences the present and the way societies were formed from interactions in the past. Having grown up in Australia, I was always interested in the US and the kinds of influence it had on Australia. Growing up I absorbed American television, comics, music and films. I always wondered: How did America gain such influence? I have long been fascinated by American history as a result of that early impact of American culture.

I guess that describes it a bit. But if you want another explanation, it might be that when I was a kid, I got to see some of history’s grand monuments. I was very fortunate to see the pyramids in Egypt as a child, as well as the Acropolis in Athens and the Colosseum in Rome. Spent the early years of my life in a working class suburb of Sydney but when I was ten, a couple of years after my father died, we had come into some money, and my mother took my sister and I to the UK, and on the way we visited many of these monuments. That probably had some influence as well in my understanding that society doesn’t just exist. There’re other societies, there’re longer histories.

Did you consider other disciplines at that point in time?

No, not really. I was ten when I went to Europe, I didn’t go to university straight out of school. In fact, I didn’t finish school – I left school, did other things, and eventually sat an adult entry exam and went to university to study American history. At the University of Sydney you couldn’t do American history in the first year, but you could in the second.  I started with Late Modern European History (LME) with the wonderful Professor Richard Bosworth and Dr Tony Cahill in the General Lecture Theatre just off the main quad. In the following years  I studied mostly American and Australian history, but we had to take other subjects so I did Economics, and what in University of Sydney we call “Government”, but is called “Political Science” most other places. In the very first LME lecture Bosworth read the passages from Foucault’s Discipline and Punish on the execution of the regicide Damiens (who attempted assassination of King Louis XV of France in 1757). He also mentioned Le Pétomane (Joseph Pujol), the flatulist.

Where do your research interests lie?

Like most historians I’m interested in the way that cultures change and shift. As a historian my interest originally  lay in understanding the way American culture changed and shifted, primarily from the period of the Gilded Age, which is around the 1870s, through until the early 20th century.

The focus of my attention was the  deep-seated changes that happened with industrialization, the growth of large corporations, and delinking of society from a producerist kind of base where most people produce things they had an intimate association with to a culture in the 1920s that very much became a culture of consumption where people didn’t necessarily produce things in such a way that they had an intimate association with the product. They may have been white collar workers or factory workers but importantly they only did very small part of the process. The trade off for this was a greater availability of goods and services in a consumerist society. So it’s that shift that has long interested me.

I also saw the role that media played in that transformation. And so that’s what I wrote about – the role of newspapers as a mass medium and the role of comic strips in making newspapers a mass medium. I’m interested in the way popular culture often gives us a sense of history. So, I’m interested in the ways that things like film and television entertain but also deliver a sense of history. We can learn a lot about the late 1960s for instance by analysing television, music and films from that era. By comparing and contrasting them with similar media from say the early 1960s we can understand how media both reflected and created change in cultures and societies.

The way we interact with popular culture, for instance, in memes, can come to sum up a large event in and of itself, and one’s knowledge on the meme then leads to other forms of knowledge, jokes and cultural moments.

I focused on a lot on American foreign policy work as an undergraduate. In those days at the University of Sydney, you spent the first year doing a subject. By the second year, you were writing five to six thousand-word essays. By the third, you were writing eight to twelve thousand-word pieces. You were being trained as a historian by second year, not through answering questions, but through shaping essays and addressing specific issues, reading widely in the literature and trying to come up with an interpretation.

And almost quite by accident, I became a cultural historian writing a book review for a course. I wrote a throwaway line wishing George M. Fredrickson had written more artists in his influential The Inner Civil War: Northern Intellectuals and the Crisis of the Union (1965) and the tutor, now Professor Shane White, wanted to read more about such concepts . The next year, in my third year at uni, I wrote a 12,000 word paper on the subject.

So being a cultural historian happened by chance?

Well, in some ways, yes. I mean, it appealed to me because I was always interested in visual material. When I read that book, one of my criticisms was that Frederickson, a very distinguished historian, who wrote a lot of work on African American History dealt with intellectuals who were journalists or essayists but also with not so much with intellectuals who were artists like painters whose response to the crisis of the Civil War might not have been as immediately apparent to historians trained to read texts.

Do you have any advice for current freshmen who may be unsure of taking history?

I think it’s always good to do what you really like. So if you don’t know what you like, spend the first year trying to figure out what you like. If you think you might like history, but are not sure about it, go and sit in some of the history lectures and see.

You are not going to like all of history. Over the years of being here, there’re people who love to do just Asian history and others who never want to do any Asian history at all. There’re all sorts of tastes in the department, all sorts of history being taught and all sorts of personalities teaching it. So it’s always good to go and figure out what you want to do. Whatever you do, try and do something that you’d like. Because after you finish university, the chances of doing something that you like are not always going to be that great.

The main thing in university for the humanities if you’re doing subjects like history is the skill to write and communicate. That’s the only real skill we’re teaching you. Being able to write means being able to approach a subject and a set of information and ask questions of that material that let you analyse  the situation to reach an understanding of what it means, how it happened and what the outcomes were reached.  Before university, students spend a lot of time learning to answer questions they are given. At university you need to learn how to shape a question for yourself and then how to structure a meaningful analysis. And you need to be able to do that better than people who have other hard skills. Because we’re all about soft skills like written and verbal communication that are transferable. We solve problems and we communicate the solutions clearly.

A lot of people may find that history is all about facts, but it’s more about stories and the ability to tell a narrative that explains. When you go out into the workforce, you’re going to have to write these kinds of narratives in slightly different ways, probably, because your skill is going to be figuring out what questions to ask your material and answering it.

History is not the only department where you can learn that, but I think we’re one of the better departments that teach that. The kind of skills that historians bring to writing,  that we’re training you to acquire, include not writing overly mechanical explanations of things, but telling a story, that builds an analysis into the narrative of what happened and the interpretation of that situation.

Historians are storytellers. In a way, that’s our key skill. But it’s not just a story. It’s a story that explains; it gives the best explanation of why this happened and what that means and how it happened. And sometimes, why something else didn’t happen. And sometimes even what would have happened if the other thing had happened or what the most likely thing could have been. It’s usually written as a story with a narrative. We don’t write fiction. But we are trying to write a narrative because we’re trying to grasp people’s attention. We want people to read it and get interested in what we’re writing.

If you are thinking of doing history, then you should like telling stories. We try to tell the best available version of what happened and why and how it happened. We understand there’s always going to be limits to our ability to convey things exactly as they were, and we have to make choices about how we order things, to make the story clearer to people. But we don’t ignore things. We understand that there are other interpretations and so we’re arguing for an interpretation as well. That’s what History is.


What is your favourite book and who is your favourite author?

There are so many. Today it’s Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall or Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife, or anything by Ian Rankin. Favourite history work is Christopher Lasch’s The True and Only Heaven. My favourite author is Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of The Sympathiser.

If you could teleport to anywhere in the world, where would it be?

New York City.

Who is your favourite cartoon character?

Bugs Bunny. Why? Because he has a liminal character. He can take on all sorts of roles and is not constrained by anything at all.

What’s your least favourite food?

Liver or kidney.

If you could add one word into the English dictionary, what would it be?

I’ve already been quoted in the Oxford English Dictionary – for the word “seeded”. You can check the OED online through the NUS Library.

Could you describe your personal motto?

*Breaks out into laughter*. “Walk hard, that’s my creed, that’s my code.” It’s a reference from a movie called Walk Hard, which is a satire of the Johnny Cash biopic Walk The Line. It’s a very funny movie.

Thank you so much for the interview.

The interview has been edited for clarity.

Dr John Solomon – Looking at Identity and Transnational Communities

What drove you to specialize in history?

I took history modules because I was interested in the specific subjects that I was studying, and not because I saw myself majoring in History. Initially, I wanted to major in Philosophy, but I just ended up taking more history modules because I was interested in the specific topics covered in those modules. However, as time went by in university, I ended up taking more history modules and became history major.

I’m interested in history as well because I like how it tells a long human story. Other disciplines may be focused on looking at our world and our society from one angle, but history takes a multi-faceted approach to it.

I enjoy the fact that I get to understand myself, my society, and my world from a multifaceted kind of point of view in how different things interact – culture, the environment, politics. Since individual human lives are short, it’s nice to see connections across a long span of time and also how transient everything can be.

Where do your research interests lie? Could you share with us your proudest moment in this journey?

Right now, I’m looking at the idea of citizenship during the colonization of Malaya. I’m looking at how people understood the concept of nationality at a time when borders were only coming up. People had to think about passports and mobility whereas previously, they might have been able to travel across the empire relatively freely. During decolonization, they had to make choices about where they were going to be. It is interesting to study how legal decisions were communicated to ordinary people, how they tried to understand and make sense of them, and how that affected their identities later on.

What were some difficulties you’ve faced in your research?

I’ve had one book about the history of an untouchable community who moved from South India to Malaysia and Singapore. The difficulty I had while researching that was trying to find interviewees. For various reasons, successive generations have undergone a process of erasure where they have consciously lost their class identity, and they haven’t told their children about it. Some people are reluctant to talk about it out of fear of continuing stigma. That was one difficulty I faced – trying to find a history of a historically submerged community that has disappeared and blended into a broader community by choice.

Were there any findings that surprised you?

In one aspect of my research projects, I was looking at the Japanese occupation and the varied experiences it was for many individuals through their oral histories. You have people who don’t really remember it through the trope of suffering. They remember it as a time of great unity, and as a time when women had a lot of rights. If you’re an Indian woman, for example, and you’re being sent off to military training, you were suddenly allowed into public life in ways that would have been unimaginable before.

How have your research interests changed over time?

It’s slowly shifted over time. When I was an undergraduate, I was very interested in genocides. I was interested in understanding how ordinary people can commit acts of brutality under different circumstances. When I did my own research in my Honours year, I became interested in how knowledge is constructed. I looked at missionary and representations in the 19th century and how that shaped ideas of race. Slowly, my research shifted from India to Singapore and Malaya through migration routes. Then I started researching more about Malaysia, Malaya and Singapore instead. The questions have changed as well – I’m more interested in broader themes of identity and how transnational communities have a sense of themselves.

There’s this practical aspect where people are afraid to take History because of the career uncertainty in the future. What’s your opinion about that?

I don’t think that’s an issue in Singapore. There are plenty of employment opportunities for history graduates in Singapore depending on what you want to be. I mean, if you want to be a chemical engineer, then don’t do History. However, if you enjoy History and the general sorts of occupations that history graduates find themselves in, go into it. You’re never really sure what you are going to do after university anyway.

Do you have any general advice for the current freshmen, especially for those who might still be unsure of whether to pursue History?

Don’t do something that you can’t stand. Do something that interests you and that you feel gives you personal growth. It’s rational and normal to have concerns about the future, so be prudent about that as well. However, don’t do something just because of a future goal to the point where you’re no longer enjoying university because that would be a waste.


What is your favourite book and who is your favourite author?

One of my favourite authors is George Orwell. I also like Salman Rushdie. I really enjoyed reading his Midnight’s Children and Satanic Verses.

What’s is something you will put on your bucket list?

I want to see Antarctica.

What genres of music do you like the most?

I like psychedelic rock, post-rock and various kinds of metal.

What’s your least favourite beverage?

Most sugary carbonated drinks, but amongst all of these, Dr Pepper.

Lastly, could you describe your personal motto?

I want to gain as much varied experience in my life as possible.

Thank you so much for the interview.

*Parts of the interview have been edited for clarity

Associate Professor Timothy Barnard – From Biologist to Historian

What drove you to specialize in history?

I have always been curious about a variety of things. As an undergraduate, I was not a History major. I majored in Biology and Anthropology. I’ve always just been very curious about everything, and I eventually realized that with history, I can learn about many topics. I can study the environment, culture, societies, politics, economics – anything, but in the past.

History thus gave me the opportunity to explore a lot of different things in one discipline. It’s both multidisciplinary and a discipline. Ultimately, what I best like about it is that it allows me to go down different little rabbit holes and explore different things.

Where do your research interests lie? Could you share with us your proudest moment in this journey?

My research is rooted in Southeast Asia, mainly the Straits of Malacca areas – Sumatra, the Malay Peninsula and Singapore – that is geographically where I do almost all of my work. Within that geographic space, I began as a young researcher focusing on societies and developments in different kingdoms or polities in the early modern period. I have since then expanded out to conduct research on film in Singapore in the 1950s and am currently doing a lot of things on Singaporean environmental history.

Of my recent work on environmental history, I’m interested in using the same traditional sources we have for Singapore such as archival newspapers, but asking different questions about them. For example, how did our environment and biodiversity change because of the arrival of imperialism? Therefore, it’s not about great men, politics and “Oh, they had a meeting about this”, but it’s about what happened to the plants and animals in Singapore because of the arrival of colonial powers. Think of it this way: I’m still studying imperialism, but I’m just asking different questions.

As for a proudest moment, I don’t think of it in that way. I enjoy exploring different topics, and asking questions from that material to better understand where I live. It is a day-to-day process, a continual journey.

Could you describe a surprising moment you had during your research?

One thing I’ve found becoming a central point in a lot of my recent writing is the extent of deforestation in Singapore in the 19th century. For example, in the first 50 to 60 years of colonial rule, Singapore basically went from being forest-covered to being completely deforested. In 60 years, 92% of the original forest was cut down and replaced with lalang, and that had a lot of effects on the society – Where do we get our water from? How do we get the building materials for houses? It created a lot of different issues that the government had to deal with and affected the development of the society. This one issue gave rise to the development of central catchment areas, water policies, and the way society developed.

How has your research interests changed over time?

A lot of it has been affected by where I live and what I do. My original research in Sumatran kingdoms came out of living in Sumatra. After I got my undergraduate degree, I lived in the province of Riau in Sumatra, and I just became interested in the place and wanted to learn more about it.

I moved to Singapore 20 years ago, and shifted a bit more toward Singapore, and this came out of living here. For instance, I saw old Malay films on TV and I couldn’t find any information about them – and so I wrote about them.

The same is true with my work on environmental history. I’ve always been interested in biodiversity because of my biology background. One of the earliest modules I created after my arrival at NUS was one on environmental history. Once I began teaching it, however, I became frustrated in the fact that there were few resources about Singapore to assign and, out of my own frustration, I decided to write some myself.

Do you have any general advice for the current freshmen, especially for those who might still be unsure of whether to pursue History?

My number one bit of advice is to study what interests you. Others may emphasize studying STEM subjects or subjects which will get you a good job. In the modern economy, however, what will get you a good job is passion. If you do not have a passion or an interest in what you study, it will become very apparent.

If you find the study of History interesting, please study it, and embrace it. If you find Economics more interesting, however, go to Economics. That’s fine. There will always be ups and downs in your studies, and what will push you through the low times is your own curiosity and interest. If you study something you don’t care about, you ultimately will get jobs that you don’t enjoy, and you will spend the rest of your life in misery.

Now, wouldn’t you rather study something that drives you and motivates you? In the modern economy, it’s not about your specific major because you’re going to change jobs and shift where you are numerous times. The basic skills that will give you that are not in your degree. It’s the ability to write well, to think and to be flexible.

Choose a major you care about and, once you do, go all in. 


What is your favourite book and who is your favourite author?

I tend to read historical narrative books for pleasure. For example, right now I’m reading about the transit of Venus in 1761 to 1769 – how scientists measured Venus against the sun and how this helped create precise readings about where we are and the size of the solar system. 

When it comes to novels, my answers are standard ones – everything from Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird or Catch-22 were among my favourites when I was younger – but I tend to read history works which highlight a specific event or development at the time now.

What’s is something you will put on your bucket list?

I don’t really have a bucket list. When I have something I’m interested in doing, I do it. I tend to travel a lot overseas though… Maybe visit Antarctica.

Who is your favourite cartoon character?

Foghorn Leghorn.

What genres of music do you like the most?

Probably 80s pop.

What’s your least favourite beverage?

Anything that has sugar. I like Coke zero sugar, but not normal Coke. I also like my coffee kosong.

If you could add one word to the English dictionary, what would it be?


Lastly, could you describe your personal motto?

Only complain once you’ve completed the job.

Thank you so much for the interview.

*Parts of the interview have been edited for clarity.